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100 Ideas that Changed the Web by Jim Boulton

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Spirit of the Web

IDEA No 18

GRAPHICS INTERCHANGE FORMAT

Webpages, social networks, blogs, email, message boards, banner ads. Other than HTML, one thing is consistent across them all – the graphics interchange format (GIF).

Dancing Girl by legendary GIF artist Chuck Poynter.

It’s 20 years old. It supports only 256 colours. It’s unsuitable for photographs. It has no sound capability. It’s inferior to the PNG (see below). Yet the GIF is still hanging in there. Why has it proved so tenacious? Because it can move.

CompuServe introduced the GIF format in the pre-Web days of 1987. It was released as a free and open specification for sharing colour images ...

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